The unfolding disaster at the University of Missouri: the University doubles down

The scandal from last November has led to:

  • Nationwide mockery
  • A possible decrease in state funding
  • A big loss in enrollment, which will lead to much greater loss in revenue

So what has been the reaction to these events? There are some new developments showing that even in a worsening situation, the University refuses to change its course.

  • The Human Resources Department is reported to be hiring additional staff to handle the rush of inquiries about retirement from faculty and staff.
  • The drop in enrollment, our spies say, is greater than the MU administration has acknowledged.
  • There is a new requirement. To graduate, students must have passed a new three-credit course in diversity. This has been promoted for decades by radical faculty. It is in addition to the diversity indoctrination required of all incoming freshmen. What will all this cost? Will this increase flagging enrollment?
  • The University System, which manages the four campuses, has created a new position, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer. It pays $235,000 p.a.

The Legislature is currently deliberating a proposed cut of nearly $8 million from the UM System’s appropriation and $1 million from the Columbia campus’s. Although the projected cuts may well be restored, this has produced the expected cries of doom. These “reactionary budget cuts” will hurt students and staff. We must be “unwavering” in our support of the University system. And so on.

A $1 million cut for MU (the Columbia campus) is a drop in the bucket, far below one percent of the annual state support. At this moment the Legislature has only a blunt instrument with which to try to get the University to come to its senses. The proposed cut will not hurt students unless MU foolishly increases tuition rates. What hurts much more is the loss of tuition revenue from the expected drop in enrollment, which spies tell us is greater than the administration is willing to acknowledge. This will probably hurt staffing. But so would cutting out the bloat. MU along with similar research universities is exposed to loss in enrollment because it has long been overcharging undergraduates in order to subsidize other operations.

To support a university does not involve just money. We support it best when we reform and improve it with student learning in mind. A bigger cut, which we recommend, should not be considered punitive, but as a greater stimulus to reform. Let us not fall for the common rhetorical technique of confusing the institution with the students’ educational needs, which can be satisfied at other institutions and in other ways. We have long recommended changing the funding model, so that state financial support goes through the students and their parents in addition to directly to institutions. This introduces competition among institutions and gives students greater opportunity and choice.

Diversity is a pernicious worldview common among left-wing academics. It has long held a foothold at MU and the UM System. The MU Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative is an example. The radical nature of some courses and the enforcement of political correctness by the MU Equity Office could also be cited. The new Diversity Officer will initiate a system-wide review of the issues under his purview with a view towards satisfying the demands of ConcernedStudent1950 and the hiring of more minority faculty and staff (as if these goals have not been obsessively pursued for decades.) This will cost $921,000, in addition to the cost of the new Officer’s salary and that of his new staff of well over half a million. In other words, MU and the UM System have learned nothing. Complaining about the cuts and yet spending more, they are merely repeating their mistakes with increased vehemence.

We recommend:

  • The required course on diversity is not academic in that it will not consider alternatives to or weaknesses in the diversity worldview. Graduation requirements for non-academic courses should be rescinded.
  • To start to improve the campus climate, which is oppressive for those not infected by political correctness, the Legislature should immediately mandate that state-supported institutions of higher education must tolerate diversity of intellectual thought and may not punish or discourage speech that is legally permitted. It is not the job of a university to attempt to correct thought and speech it finds ‘inappropriate.’ It must practice the tolerance it proclaims.
  • Improve the state funding model by adopting the recommendation above.
  • Begin structural reform by creating a state-wide board governing all post-secondary education for state-supported institutions. The parameters under which this Board is to operate to be determined by a blue-ribbon panel named by and reporting to the Legislature.
  • Specify the rules under which all demonstrations will be permitted to take place. The Coordinating Board of Higher Education already has this power under existing statute.     Troglo

Troglo (L. H. Kevil)

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The Missouri Legislature and the University of Missouri

After the ugly events of last November at the University of Missouri at Columbia (MU,) legislators have been bombarded with demands from constituents to “do something” about MU, which is out of control and clearly ungovernable. For a summary of these events click here, here, and here. The problems at MU are typical of those at many American universities. Click here for more information.

Let’s first list some suggestions for legislative action in 2016 and follow them with a few observations filling in the background.

What should the Legislature do?

  • The problems are deep-rooted; solutions will be difficult in the face of institutional resistance to change and MU’s barely concealed scorn for the legislature and the Missourians it represents. The sooner the legislature acts, the easier reform will be before the state of our public universities becomes irreversible.
  • Let us stipulate at the beginning that the University of Missouri at Columbia (MU) is not autonomous. It is owned by the people of Missouri and accountable for its actions through the Board of Curators and ultimately the General Assembly, representing the people. MU’s tripartite mission is teaching, research, and service such as through the Extension division. Social engineering is not a fourth mission. State government has the obligation to ensure public colleges and universities maintain high academic standards and are fair, unbiased, and truly open to all, with no coercion, indoctrination, or litmus tests. Repairing MU’s and the state’s reputations should be a very high priority.
  • We recommend enacting the following first steps during this 2016 legislative session.
  • Protect all legally permitted speech.
    • Go beyond Senate Bill 93, signed into law last summer, which banned the creation of campus free speech zones. It should be made crystal clear in new legislation that public colleges and universities may not ban, punish, or inhibit legally permitted speech. It should also be part of this legislation that diversity of intellectual expression and free inquiry are mandated. Encouraging anonymous reporting of ‘offensive’ speech so those singled out may be punished should be unequivocally illegal. The goal of a university is to educate, not spy, indoctrinate, change hearts and minds, or insist on uniformity (the opposite of diversity).
  • Discrimination for or against because of race should be illegal. No single race may be privileged above the others.
  • Control demonstrations, occupations of public property, and harassment.
    • Demonstrations are exercises of free speech and should be respected. But shouting down lecturers should be meet with immediate ejection from the lecture hall; resistance should be a misdemeanor offense warranting expulsion. There needs to be legal clarity about when demonstrations become illegal “occupations” of public property and harassment of university faculty, administrators, and guest speakers. “Occupations” obstruct students’ pursuit of their education or the normal work of university employees. They should not be tolerated and met with possible arrest or expulsion. Violence should trigger immediate expulsion or termination of employment.
    • Appeasement of protestors’ demands has over decades only created more resentment and renewed pressure for even more radical demands; it should not be tolerated. The MU police department should enforce order on campus, not advise students to report legal speech to campus administrators for punishment.
  • We expect a see-no-evil, self-justifying response from campus administration. If there is substantial resistance and foot-dragging in implementing the needed reforms, more drastic action should be taken.

Continue reading

A Century of Masked Robbery

Beauty-schools

For almost a hundred years private beauty schools have been masking their true motives. This masquerade is designed to enrich the owners of these schools by robbing citizens, especially those pursuing an occupation in barbering or cosmetology.

Beauty schools don’t commit robbery by burglarizing homes or by sticking a sawed-off shotgun in the face of their victims, but by what is better described as “strong-armed” robbery – using the strong arm of the law.

How do beauty schools use the law to enrich themselves? Specifically, they use cosmetology licensure laws that they have promoted, which require the purchase of costly courses that can legally be offered only by licensed beauty schools. These courses are required by state statutes, enacted at the behest of these beauty schools, before prospective cosmetologists, barbers, manicurists & estheticians may pursue gainful employment.

The title of a post by Matthew Yglesias in Slate Magazine pretty much says it all: “Beauty Schools Are Ripping off Their Students. Terrible Licensing Rules Deserve Some of the Blame”.

Have I unmasked the motives of beauty schools yet?

Continue reading

AP bias uptick: it must be election season

Regular readers know our thoughts about the left-wing bias of the Associated Press (AP.) Now that the warm-up to the 2016 elections is upon us, we are starting to see an increasing number of blatantly biased AP articles. Most of these articles are unsigned, perhaps for obvious reasons. As one example we read today the astonishing news regarding same-sex couples that we live “in a nation that recognizes their marriages.” One would think that the writer would try to present this fatuous assertion a bit more artfully.

Our main point in this post is the reporting of the debate about funding welfare for the next fiscal year in the Missouri State legislature. This story will be typical of the AP’s coverage of the upcoming elections, as it seeks to portray Republicans in a negative light. We read the following about the Republican war on the poor and downtrodden:

  • Cutting social services priority for GOP lawmakers
  • Republican lawmakers are using their large majorities this session to try to limit the social safety net on a number of fronts
  • Republicans looking to trim the state’s social safety net
  • Lead budget writer Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, is pushing for funding cuts to the state’s social services, health and mental health departments next fiscal year

None of this is of course true. Weasely reporters have a long history of portraying actual increases as funding cuts. They do this by implicitly comparing the actual funding not against the previous year’s funding, but against requested funding or projections. The AP can only get away with this whopper by not reporting the context. Since Senator Schaefer is a candidate for Attorney General in the upcoming election, he has an AP target on his back. Below are the details the AP omitted to report, based on what Senator Schaefer has said himself here.

Welfare spending has been increasing at an unsustainable rate, threatening to gobble up every new dollar in revenue the state receives as the economy improves. Something needs to be done. The safety net cannot become a hammock.The legislature has had a difficult relationship with the Governor and the department heads, who will not cooperate and help the legislature fund the most pressing needs first. Social Services requested an additional $1 billion over what had been spent the previous year. Senator Schaefer’s proposal would give Social Services an $800 million increase over the previous year’s expenditures. An $800 million increase cannot honestly be characterized as a cut. Senator Schaefer proposes to give the department heads their entire budget allocation in a lump sum, the equivalent of block grants, and thus the responsibility for prioritizing what is needed where. This strikes us as a sensible policy until we get a new Governor, at which time accurate measures of the effectiveness of the expenditures should be put into place.   Troglo

Troglo

Missouri Right to Farm amendment one – still a bad idea

Following our earlier posts – click here and here – , we recently have been inquiring of promoters the reasons for their support.

Television advertisements in favor of the amendment have the motto, “Keep Missouri Farming,” as if there were threats to ban farming. No one can reasonably believe that farming itself is under attack. We all support farming and farm families. What then about unreasonable and expensive regulation? Few think that unwise regulation from the state of Missouri – which the Legislature could and would change – is sufficient reason for the amendment. All agree that most unwise regulation comes from Washington, D.C. and that the Missouri constitution would be powerless to stop the Federal juggernaut. Some think that “big farm,” large-scale corporate farming, is behind the amendment and is a threat to smaller, family farms. One legislator denies that the corporation named in a comment, Smithfield Foods, has anything to do with support for the amendment. The support comes from farmers, say the legislators. The Governor believes that the amendment would likely do very little. A prime backer of the amendment agrees with the Governor and believes that the primary benefit of the amendment is to require a higher level of judicial scrutiny than would ordinarily be the case. Continue reading

Missouri Amendment 1: the right to farm – a bad idea

Missouri voters have the opportunity August 5 to add a “right to farm” provision to the Missouri Constitution. The wording on the ballot is this:

“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure that the right of Missouri citizens to engage in agricultural production and ranching practices shall not be infringed?”

The text of the proposed amendment as taken from the House and Senate resolutions:

Section A. Article I, Constitution of Missouri, is amended by adding thereto one new section, to be known as section 35, to read as follows: Section 35. That agriculture which provides food, energy, health benefits, and security is the foundation and stabilizing force of Missouri’s economy. To protect this vital sector of Missouri’s economy, the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state, subject to duly authorized powers, if any, conferred by article VI of the Constitution of Missouri.

We have five principal objections to this proposal:

  • It continues a deplorable trend to constitutionalize political disputes
  • It addresses a non-problem
  • The legislature should have addressed this issue with legislation
  • Constitutionalizing political issues invites court challenges and tit-for-tat amendments
  • If the amendment can prevent bad regulation, it can also prevent good regulation

Continue reading

Legislator promotes a second wrong to make a right!

An Open Letter to Missouri Representative Glen Kolkmeyer.

Representative Kolkmeyer, you are correct, every participant in the market place “needs to play by the same rules”, as you were quoted by the Springfield News-Leader.

You are wrong; however, by intimating that two wrongs make a right.

The First Wrong: The current rule (law), that you told the media “decided (that) any car sold in the state of Missouri would be sold through a dealer”, is a wrong that should be fixed to ensure an even playing field and restore natural contract rights.  That wrong-headed market intervention, Chapter 406.826, exists pursuant to a 2001 House bill sponsored by a St. Louis Democrat and was adopted by a Democratically controlled committee and House of Representatives, hardly “decided by our forefathers”, as you were quoted in the Leader.

The second wrong, for all the reasons explained in this post, would be to adopt Senate Substitute for House Bill 1124 and would not make that existing statute right.

Neither can this wrong be justified by including a reference to the existing public policy statement related to the manufacture and distribution of automobiles, found in Chapter 407.811.  Another one of our so-called forefathers, Senator Mike Parson, sponsored the public policy statement, cited in the Senate Substitute for House Bill 1124, which he introduced when a Representative.

To demonstrate that the public policy statement was little more than an attempt to provide preferential treatment of motor vehicle dealerships, the introduced version of that 2010 bill, House Bill 2198, contained the following language:

Given the importance of the motor vehicle industry in the state, the provisions of the MVFP act (Motor Vehicle Franchise Practices Act) shall be liberally construed to protect motor vehicle dealers.

Thank goodness that someone saw the flaw in the attempt by that “forefather” to provide unabashed preferential treatment of automobile dealerships by regulators and the courts and it was stricken in the truly agreed version of the bill.

The right thing to do when the Senate Substitute for your House Bill 1124 is taken up by the House is to refuse to recede to the Senate Substitute and allow the bill to die.  Then, assuming your re-election, offer a bill next session to repeal or sunset Chapter 407.826.Bruce-thumbnail

Bruce Hillis